In 1951, almost 80% per cent of university students were male, but it was all downhill from there for the lads. For the next 36 years the number women on campus steadily grew until 1987, when there was gender parity for the first time in Australian university history.
Ever since then, gentleman students have been outnumbered. The following year (1988) the number of female students outstripped male students for the first time, beginning 25 years of dominance that continues to this day.
Percentage of males and females at Australian universities
In 2013 there were 1.3 million higher education students in Australia. 55.6% (0.73 million) were female and 44.4% (0.58 million) were male.
The university with the highest proportion of lady students is the Australian Catholic University (ACU), where a whopping 72.2% of the population identify as female. That’s a ratio of over 2.5 females to every male. This suggests that ACU is not a bad place to be if you’re an eligible bachelor or bachelorette who’s in the market for an educated woman. Not a bad place to be at all.
Following closely behind ACU are Notre Dame Univeristy (70.4% female), Charles Darwin University (67.9%) and the University of the Sunshine Coast (64.9%).
The title of most masculine university goes to the University of New South Wales, where 53.8% of students prefer to stand when they pee. The only other universities that recorded more males than females were the University of Wollongong (50.4%), Federation University (52.7%), RMIT (51.2%), Swinburne (51.3%) and Adelaide Uni (51.8%).
The state or territory with the highest proportion of female students was Queensland (56.6%). The ACT had the highest proportion of gentleman students, with 46.6%.
But perhaps the most interesting statistics relate to what lady and gentlemen students prefer to study.
Apparently, gentlemen students like to tinker with things and build stuff, judging by the fact that 84% of students studying ‘Engineering and related technologies’ are male. Similarly, it would appear that men like to play with computers, judging by the fact that 81% of information technology (IT) students are male.
Meanwhile, women seem to lean toward fields that involve helping and nurturing people. 76% of education students and 72% of health students are female (‘health’ includes nursing, medicine and health sciences, among others).
The respective study preferences for each gender explains the ridiculous gender imbalance at some universities. ACU, the university with the greatest proportion of female students, has large education and health faculties – the two most popular fields among lady students. However, ACU has no engineering faculty and teaches barely any IT – the two disciplines most popular among gentleman students.
What does all of this this tell us?
It tells us that more men need to get in touch with their nurturing side and discover the rewards of educating and positively influencing young people. It also leaves one wondering whether we’d have nicer cars and buildings if we had more females in engineering and architecture fields.
But enough with the gender stereotyping. How on earth is any of this useful for the purposes of making a decision on which uni or course to enrol in?
Well, it’s not very useful at all I’m afraid… not unless you’re planning on making a choice based on where you’re most likely to score. Of course, you’re free to do this, but it wouldn’t be how I’d go about choosing a uni course.